Cardiovascular, sympathoadrenal, and subjective responses to mental stress induced by a color-word conflict test (CWT) were studied in 30 healthy males before and after intravenous administration of either placebo, beta 1-blockade by metoprolol (0.15 mg/kg), or nonselective beta-blockade by propranolol (0.15 mg/kg). CWT responses were reproducible. Mean arterial pressure increased by 20%. A mainly heart rate-dependent 65% increase in cardiac output (thermodilution) was associated with 25% decreases of both systemic (SVR) and calf vascular (CVR) resistances. Arterial plasma epinephrine (Epi) was doubled, and norepinephrine (NE) increased by 50%. Self-evaluated stress score correlated positively with changes in cardiac output and inversely with changes in SVR during CWT. Both metoprolol and propranolol halved heart rate responses; whereas increases in mean arterial pressure, Epi, and NE were uninfluenced. Metoprolol reduced the increase in stroke volume, and propranolol abolished it. SVR and CVR responses were attenuated by metoprolol and abolished by propranolol. The results suggest that mental stress accelerates the heart through neurogenic mechanisms and that peripheral vasodilatation is achieved through the concerted actions of reduced vasoconstrictor activity and elevated circulating Epi.
- Copyright © 1988 the American Physiological Society